Cat spat ends in catfight

CONVICTED: Tan Phui Moi (left) and her sister, Ong Siok Bee. Tan was convicted of voluntarily causing hurt.

SINGAPORE - Unhappy at what she perceived to be inadequate care given to her pet cat, she attacked the nurse at the veterinary clinic.

The cat lover claimed that she did so in self-defence.

But after a three-day trial, she was convicted of the assault and fined.

A district court heard that Tan Phui Moi, 47 and her sister, Ms Ong Siok Bee, 38, took their pet, a cat named Justin, for treatment at the Animal Recovery Veterinary Centre.

The clinic was then at Balestier Road and is now at Serangoon Road.

The cat was suffering from feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) - similar to HIV in humans.

The cat had been at the centre for a few weeks and the sisters had gone there more than 10 times to see it.

On Dec 7, 2011, the sisters went there again to see their cat.

Noticing that it was looking frail and cold in the isolation room, which is equivalent to the intensive care unit in hospitals, Tan asked for a heating pad from a vet nurse. She claimed the nurse had ignored her the whole day.

Another nurse, Ms Karen Quek Xiao Juan, was attending to another customer on the first storey when she heard the commotion from the second storey.

She went up to check and saw Tan gesturing with her index finger at her colleague while scolding her.

Tan told her not to interfere and continued scolding Ms Quek's colleague.

Ms Quek told Tan that she should not be abusing the nurse and that she should respect them.

Tan then used her shoulder to hit Ms Quek's shoulder.


When Ms Quek asked why she did this, Tan grabbed her by the shoulders, and pinned her back against a high chair, injuring her.

Another vet nurse and a man tried to help by pulling Tan away.

They could not, so Ms Quek bit Tan's right forearm and she released her grip.

Tan and her sister then left the clinic with the cat.

A customer called the police and Ms Quek was warded at the Changi General Hospital.

In defence, Tan claimed it was Ms Quek who had pushed herself in between her and the other nurse.

She also claimed that when she told Ms Quek not to interfere, Ms Quek was unhappy and pressed her body near her, causing Tan's body to be pinned near the wall.

She then acted out of self-defence, Tan alleged.

She claimed that Ms Quek bit her left forearm and her sister called the police.

A medical report showed that Ms Quek started having back pain about three days after the assault.

She was diagnosed with acute back contusion and had returned to the hospital with worsening back pain.

Ms Quek took out a private summons against Tan at the State Courts.

After a three-day trial, Tan was convicted last month of voluntarily causing hurt and was fined $1,000.

Tan has filed a notice of appeal against her conviction and sentence.

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